Law enforcement agencies encourage boater safety
TAMPA, Fla. (Tampa Bay Now) - Law enforcement agencies all over the Tampa Bay Area are gearing up for a busy Memorial Day weekend out on the water.
Agencies are getting their plans together to keep families safe over the weekend and encourage boater safety.
"I myself have been involved in a crash and they had to tell my family members 'Hey, your husband is in bad shape right now and we don't know if he is going to make it.' I don't want anybody to have to go through that so if me coming out here doing enforcement on the water stops somebody from having to hear that, then that's what I'm going to do," said Tim Berg with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Marine Unit.
Berg says working out on the water is a tough job.
"We've seen the affects that can happen from a crash, and the devastation it can cause or talk to the family members after the fact and somebody's been hurt or injured or possibly killed, we've done that," said Berg.
He focuses on making sure people are safely driving boats and are not impaired.
"If you're going to be the captain for the day and drive that boat, don't consume alcoholic beverages because you owe it to your boat, you owe it to the people on your boat, and you owe it to the people around you to operate safely," said Berg.
This Memorial Day Weekend, Berg's team and other law enforcement agencies are expecting a big increase in the number of boaters and are planning to patrol the water.
"We will have additional resources for the detail including mobile initializer machines staged at boat ramps in both Hillsborough and Pinellas County," said Evan Laskowski, Area Supervisor.
And while the focus is on drinking and driving, law enforcement officers are emphasizing the importance of making other safe decisions.
Marine patrol units want you to keep in mind a few things this weekend. Make sure you are always wearing your life vest and pay attention to your surroundings, including the weather.
"Keep your eyes forward but you should always know what is behind you and to either side," said Ron Blair with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
They encourage people to send their location to family members and give them a time of when you should be arriving back to a dock.
If you stop the boat, make sure it's completely turned off.
"Many accidents occur when people are swimming behind a vessel and the operator is on and they are unaware that people are back there, and they turn their engine on," said Laskowski.
"You can't rely on other people to do the right thing, so make sure you are doing the right thing to the best of your ability," said Nicholas Jennings with the U.S. Coast Guard.
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